Go Lean, Gain Strength

Sourcing the right products for installation can save people money

Cost-saving measures during a security installation usually focus on steps that minimize waste on the job site: reducing packing, speeding deployment and decreasing go-backs. But there’s one area that can help eliminate waste on the job site before the purchase orders have even been finalized. It’s called sourcing and it’s one of the most important tools in a security integrator’s repertoire. Done right, sourcing the right products can reduce training time, free up skilled workers’ time and improve the overall quality of the installation.


Typically, before a project is secured or an order is placed, sourcing can include many aspects, such as supplier management, product specification, selection, quality, inventory and availability. The allows installers to know exactly what materials are right for the applications and overall project. In the physical security industry, technologies are constantly and rapidly evolving. To source the right products for a project, it is essential to stay on top of emerging technologies and new products. However, staying on the cutting edge of the industry requires a substantial investment of time and resources in order to stay competitive.


As new technologies develop, knowing which technology from which manufacturer is right for the job becomes a greater challenge. With the days of a single-manufacturer solution gone, many systems are now comprised of products from a variety of manufacturers, and that has led to hundreds of manufacturers in recent years offering products to handle niche challenges.

Maintaining relationships with manufacturers and participating in industry associations such as ONVIF to learn about emerging standards is the best way to stay current on what is new, and what is working, in the market. Sourcing can let security installers use fewer resources on site by reducing the number of employees needed to install a product, improve the overall quality of the installation, minimize troubleshooting and allow for quicker installation. In fact, streamlining a project through effective sourcing can save time and money and can result in more profit and more time to secure additional projects. According to a recent study from McGraw Hill, 70 percent of contractors say that decreases in project schedules help them win bids. Other studies show that reducing nonproductive labor by 5 percent can increase profits by nearly 20 percent.

In order to become leaner, it’s crucial to look at each stage in the life of project and uncover the practices that slow you down. Every organization and project is unique, but based on decades of experience Anixter has providing a variety of solutions across different markets, these are the eight practices that stand out.


Sorting through manufacturers and technologies. The investment involved in staying on top of not only the products currently available but also what technology is on the horizon can be daunting for anyone. This expertise is crucial to providing the best solutions to meet customers’ needs.

Purchasing proprietary products for the job. Understanding products and their potential is as important as being clear about how products work together and in a variety of environments. Ensuring interoperability before implementation saves time and money in the long run.

Ordering out of stock products. This can cause issues in two ways: one is the time involved waiting on products to come into stock and the second are the costs associated with holding excess inventory.

Managing countless manufacturers and orders. Beyond product selection in a multi-manufacturer environment, there is a practical operational cost associated with managing dozens of orders and supplier relationships, which increases the potential for risk and errors.

Lining up deliveries. Most integrators know the feeling of sitting on a job site waiting for a shipment to arrive. Unexpected delays and poor coordination can extend project timelines and cause labor costs to soar.

Sorting through packages on site. Depending on the size of a project, dozens of hours of time that could have been spent on implementation are instead spent on tasks such as making sure the correct products are in the correct locations and excess waste is removed.

Assembling technology on site. Due to technical complexity in the security industry, so much time is spent putting products together onsite that could otherwise be done beforehand. Everything from IP testing, camera preassembly and kitting could make installations shorter and simpler as well as improving cash flow.

Beginning orders from scratch. Plenty of e-business solutions are designed to save time and money including order processing, status and performance reporting. However, B2B integration is crucial. It holds the potential for inventory replenishment and control systems for storerooms.


Anixter approaches sourcing by employing technical experts around the globe who continually earn industry certifications, participate in associations and contribute to the development of industry standards. The center of this expertise is the Infrastructure Solutions Lab, which researches, tests and evaluates products to help customers meet their application challenges.

Anixter’s customizable Supply Chain Solutions are designed to help focus on an integrator’s core competencies to stay competitive in the marketplace: improving supply chain visibility, enhancing labor efficiencies, educing inventory carrying cost, increasing working capital, addressing sustainability requirements, and saving time with kitting and preprogramming services.

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Security Today.

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